Kelechi Okworogwo of Westminster Academy (Conn.) and formerly with Brooklyn Collegiate (PSAL) has committed to Austin Peay State Men’s Basketball program, today Lions’ assistant coach Ken Hoyte told me.
Although the original plan was to wait until the spring to commit, Okworogwo took an official visit to Austin Peay last week and decided that the Clarksville, Tenn., University was the best fit for him.
“I felt right at home at Austin Peay,” Okworogwo explained. “Coach (Nate) James and his coaching staff are a really good group of experienced coaches. I think Austin Peay will give me the best opportunity to learn, develop, and become a pro. Heading down to Tennessee will take me out of my comfort zone, which will be good for me to grow as a person, both on and off the court.”
Okworogwo transferred to the Lions as a wiry 6-foot-5, 170-pound 15-year-old junior with no varsity experience and took full advantage of the academic and athletic support at Brooklyn Collegiate. His coaches said his hard work positively changed the trajectory of his life.
As a junior, he only averaged 1.5 p.p.g. and 1.1 r.p.g. in just five minutes of action per contest. Despite his stats, a number of Division I coaches saw Okworogwo in the Lions’ open gyms and loved his potential. He managed to pick up three Division I offers–Stony Brook, Bryant, and Manhattan–after his junior year.
Then came the truncated 2021 campaign, in which the 6-foot-7 forward posted 15 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks per game in six tilts.
After an eye-opening senior year, Okworogwo’s recruitment began in to soar. He took visits to Stony Brook, Columbia, Quinnipiac, and Binghamton in June. He also picked up committable offers from Cornell and Siena, both of which wanted him to attend last year, Hoyte noted.
Okworogwo’s recruitment continued to blow up during an electric AAU season with CM3 Elite on the Hoopgroup circuit. Yale, Lehigh, Robert Morris, Albany, NJIT, UC Riverside, Charleston, Umass, Kent State, Holy Cross, and Washington State all came to see him in action, Hoyte said.
However, at only 17 years old and having limited varsity experience, Okworogwo wanted to have another year of basketball experience under his belt. Brooklyn Collegiate helped him to navigate the decision-making process, which landed him at Westminster Academy, who play in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC).
Academically, Okworogwo went from an “average” student to a member of the national honor society. In his two years at Brooklyn Collegiate he maintained a 3.8 G.P.A. and was a full academic qualifier.
“Throughout his time at Brooklyn Collegiate, Kelechi was the true definition of a student-athlete,” Brooklyn Collegiate Head Coach Malcolm Connor said. “Very rarely does a coach find a player that can match his work ethic, which K.O. did. Due to this and his limitless potential, the sky is truly the limit. I’m looking forward to seeing him continue to grow at the collegiate level each year and become an all-conference player.”
Austin Peay is 4-9 overall and 0-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) action this season.
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— Jerry Del Priore
Photos: Brooklyn Colligate